Srinagar: Ahead of the Afzal Guru and Maqbool Butt’s death anniversaries, various separatist leaders were detained in police stations or placed under house arrest. However, two key faces of Kashmir’s separatist movement Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are away in Delhi where Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday visited the former at his Malviya Nagar residence to inquire about his health. Ayaz Akbar, an aide of the octogenarian separatist leader, said that Geelani is “undergoing a detailed medical treatment in New Delhi and his health condition is now stable”
He also said that the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi is continuously in touch with Geelani and “repeatedly enquiring about his health condition.” Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Obaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani also called Geelani over phone to inquire about his health.
Akbar also said that Basit and Geelani also discussed “issues of mutual interest” at their 80 minute long meeting during which some other officials of the Pakistan mission were also present.
Earlier on Monday, the Mirwaiz met Basit to discuss various issues concerning Kashmir and “express gratitude to the Government of Pakistan for putting in strenuous efforts for resolving Kashmir issue.”
In Srinagar, police on Monday arrested chairman Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Muhammmd Yasin Malik and later produced him before a local court which sent him on judicial remand for seven days. He was along with his close associates subsequently shifted to Central Jail, Srinagar.
Meanwhile, security forces enforced a near total lockdown on major parts of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar on Tuesday to hold back protests planned on the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru.
Guru, a resident of Doabgah suburb of Kashmir’s north-western town of Sopore, was hanged to death in Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 9, 2013.
Huge contingents of CRPF and local police personnel in large numbers with riot gear were at dawn fanned out to enforce security lockdown in areas falling under five police stations of politically volatile central Srinagar. Partial security restrictions were imposed in some other equally sensitive parts of the Valley too. However, unlike past occasions, no such restrictions were in force in Guru’s home place and the let-up was seized by hundreds of people including separatist activists to visit his family to share its sorrow and join a prayer meeting.
Elsewhere in the Muslim-majority Valley, the separatists’ called for a shutdown to commemorate Guru execution was widely obeyed by the people by suspending work. The rail services through the Valley were suspended “as a precautionary measure”, officials said.
At places including outside the office of United Nations Military Observers in India and Pakistan (UNMOIP) in Srinagar activists held protest demonstrations, demanding the mortal remains of Guru be returned so that they are given a “decent and befitting burial’ in the Valley.
The restrictions are likely to continue through February 11 which is observed as ‘black day" in Kashmir to mark the death anniversary of Muhammad Maqbool Butt, the co-founder of pro-independence Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF). Butt charged with murder of an Indian intelligence officer Amar Chand in Kashmir way back in mid-1960s was also executed in Delhi Tihar jail in 1984 and like Guru his mortal remains were buried inside the prison premises.
“We will review the security at a meeting in the evening and if the situation warrants restrictions under Section 144 CRPC will continue tomorrow and day after. Otherwise, these will be lifted for the day on Wednesday,” a senior police officer told this newspaper....